Nature Trail’s Evolving Story
- Watch this space.
- We hope government leadership of Australia’s socio-economy will learn wisdom and become responsible,. and get up to the task of facilitating the fair trading rights of local small business, suffering from compounded government incompetence.
- We then as a local business may then be able to once again trade normally and so afford to contribute to the government tax revenues. Yet alas we no sign yet.
- In August 2021, Nature Trail again applied for financial cpmpensation for this government lockdown denying commercial trade in touring, and was successful in obtaining the government’s COVID-19 Micro-business Grant compensation funding of $1500 per fortnight over four months to the end of November 2021. Again this funding went back into the business and to pay household bills.
- In November 2020, a new highly contagious outbreak of the global China Virus pandemic purportedly emanation this time out of Mumbai in India (dubbed the Delta Strain by the World Health Organisation) pressured the NSW Government to impose a strict socio-economic lockdown upon Greater Sydney and exteending out to adjoining regions of NSW, including the Blue Mountains Region.
- With the global China Virus pandemic extending beyond March 2020 and the subsequent impost of a Greater Sydney Region social economic lockdown that included adjacent regions including the Blue Mountains Region, all commerial tours continued to be declared illegal under the lockdown rules and all tourist visitation to the Blue Mountains was prohibited by the NSW Government.
- Nature Trail applies and is deemed eligible for a NSW Government Small Business bushfire compensation grant of $10,000. However it takes over five months of bureaucratic dispute for the funds to be finally received. This funding goes back into the tour business – mainly into the repairs costs of the recently acquired tour vehicle as well as paying household bills..
- In April 2020 Nature Trail applies for the Australian Goverment’s pandemic compensation grant dubbed JobKeeper and is deemed eligible. This grant funding extends from March 2020 to March 2021 and total $27,900. This funding is properly allocated back into the tour business and paying household bills.
- In March 2020, the Australian Government declares a national emergency due to the China Virus global pandemic which it allowed to bypass Australia’s absent national quarantine protocols. So back-to-back with the 2019 bushfire lockdown, our Blue Mountains Region sufferred a second prolonged socio-economic lockdown. All tourist visitation to the Blue Mountains was declared illegal and so denying Nature Trail any tour revenue opportunity indefinitely.
- In February 2020 Nature Trail applies for the Australian Goverment’s Bushfire Disaster Recover Allowance grant funding of $3282 and after much bureaucratic dispute, Nature Trail finally receives the bushfire disaster compensation funding in June 2020.
- NSW Government’s Booking Service Provider Authority is voluntarily cancelled by Nature Trail due to the NSW Government’s excessive arbitrary annual tax of $500 despite no paying passengers
- Nature Trail delivers a number of pro-bono mini-bus tours to members of the Hoskins Uniting Church in Lithgow through retired historian John Low OAM
- In August 2019 Nature Trail acquires a dedicated tour vehicle, a 1995 P38 Range Rover HSE and begins to undertake an extensive restoration programme to ready it for commercial touring
- In late August 2019 Nature Trail officiallly laucnes its tour pperatison commercially, undertakes a business brochure distribution campaign and begins taking commercial enquiries and bookings
- On 26th October 2019 a small ignition is detected in the Wollemi National Park at Gospers Mountain 70km NE of Katoomba. It is left to burn by the NSW Parks Service and NSW Rural Fire Service as a defacto hazard reduction
- By the approach of Christmas 2019, the Gospers Moountain bushfire and a number of other blazes have been allowed to spread over massive fire fronts, ultimatey destroying 80% of the Blue Mountaiins World Heritage Area of nearly 1 million square kilometers of unique ‘protected’ forest ecology. The entire region is imposed with socio-economic lockdown and the NSW Government declares and imposes three separate states of emergency through to mid February 2020.
- Numerous practice trips of designed tours are design, planned, reconnoitred and delivered as practice trips with the generous support from The Friends of Nature Trail
- NSW Booking Service Provider Authority liceense is applied for and successfully obtained by Nature Trail, so enabling official delivery of commercial hire car, four wheel drive and taxi services under a single commercial licensing regime.
- Numerous practice trips undertaken with Friends of Nature Trail
- On Saturday 2nd September 2017, Steven informally launched Nature Trail at the Nature Trail Base in Katoomba with friends, tea and scotch finger biscuits. The business aims and approach were explained emphasising the focus on researched interpretative guiding and discussion was had about the first Spring Programme for hiking tours and road tours.
- In August 2017 with encouragement from business coaching friend Chris Borrett, Nature Trail’s Tour Director decides to officially launch his business Nature Trail, a website and commence organising and leading practice tours with Friends of Nature Trail.
- Nature Trail’s Tour Director attains a Diploma of Outdoor Recreation at high distinction level from the New South Wales TAFE college of Western Sydney Institute located at Wentworth Falls.
- Nature Trail’s Tour Director attains a Certificate III in Driving Operations (Bus) attained
- Nature Trail’s Tour Director attains a Blue Mountains Council Commercial Tourism License to run tours on Council controlled community bushland areas
- Nature Trail’s Tour Director attains a TAFE Food Safety Supervisor Certificate to enable the provision of food safe catering on tours
- In October 2015 Nature Trail’s Tour Director resigns from his daily casual bus driving work with Blue Mountains Bus Company due to ongoing targeted bullying by the operations manager. Shortly afterwards due to the the persistence of the operations manager’s pwrsistent bullying of other bus drivers, he is relocated permanently from the Katoomba bus depot to the Valley Heights bus depot.
- Nature Trail’s Tour Director attains TAFE Certificate III in Outdoor Recreation from the New South Wales TAFE college of Western Sydney Institute located at Wentworth Falls.
- Nature Trail’s Tour Director attains Drive and Recover a 4WD Vehicle statement of attainment
- Nature Trail’s Tour Director continues his daily casual bus driving work with Blue Mountains Bus Company in Katoomba
- Nature Trail’s Tour Director attains a TAFE Certificate IV in Guiding from TAFE Sydney Institutes Department of Travel and Tourism at the Ultimo campus in inner Sydney
- Nature Trail is registered as a business on 10th December 2013 and on the same day www.naturetrail.com.au is registered as a domain and website development commences.
- Nature Trail’s Tour Director joins Blue Mountains Bus Company in Katoomba as a licensed public bus driver on a daily casual basis and undertakes various bus driving work including locally school runs, school charter, corporate charter work in luxury Mercedes coaches and the Trolley Bus tourist shuttle services.
Read also about…
Nature Trail’s founder’s passion for the great outdoors:
Nature Trail’s founder and tour director, Steve, has been hiking, touring and exploring the great outdoors since his early childhood in Victoria.
Nature and Nurture
According to accounts from Steve’s mother Judith, at age four, Steve wanted to ride his trike from home in Hortense Street Ashburton to Ashburton Primary School, but along the railway line because it was more adventurous.
The only way his mother found that she could convince his strong will not to do so was to say that if he did, the government would have to take him away from his mother because they would say that his mother was irresponsible.
At age seven, Steve recalls living in Fitzroy Street in Sale in East Gippsland and exploring the country town’s wide streets of which seemed to extend for an eternity. His father Ian would take him sailing on nearby Lake Wellington in his timber Heron sailing boat.
Growing up in mainly in Melbourne, Steve enjoyed exploring the banks of Koonung Creek in Doncaster at a time when there was native bushland and frogs. These days the creek is a drain under the tollway.
Steve recalls his holidays staying at his grandparents’ beach house at Blairgowrie on the Mornington Peninsula from age eight, playing in the tea tree scrub and befriending a blackbird. Steve would venture off by himself and spend hours beachcombing by himself beyond White Cliffs and along the length of Canterbury Jetty Road all the way to the back beach.
On occasion, Steve and his family would have outings to the Victorian countryside and coastline. A few times the family would take a drive into the hills for a picnic such as at Maroondah Dam and at a bush block at Warburton owned by his grandparents, grilling chops and sausages on an open fire. In winter sometimes the family would head up into the high country when it snowed and try tobogganing at Mount Donna Buang.
When Steve got his first bicycle for Christmas on year, a three speed Raleigh, he rode it everywhere. One time he rode it from Doncaster to the beach at Edithvale and back (80km) and on a number of occasions up to the hills including to Healesville Wildlife Sanctuary (100km).
In the early days his father Ian would take Steve and his young brothers camping and fishing with the canvas and calico tent which had a front awning and a central pole and you could stand up in it. They would all sleep on fold out stretchers. Australia was less populated in the 1970s and you could just pull up at a rest area and pitch a tent and light a camp fire. One time the four of them went to a irrigated pastoral area near Nagambie and in a canal caught perhaps a dozen Redfin fish – with no bait! That was before Steve’s sister was born.
Every September school holidays, which in those days lasted three weeks, Steve’s family would pack into the station wagon with caravan in tow and drive overland to Queensland’s Gold Coast, then later to the Sunshine Coast. One year the family holidayed at Currumbin. Early in the mornings Steve would walk along the beach to Elephant Rock and to the Currumbin Bird Sanctuary to help feed the lorikeets who would sit on his head and shoulders.
The family would take caravaning holidays to Gippsland, Swan Hill, South Australia, and New South Wales exploring the countryside.
The family moved from Doncaster to At Camberwell Grammar School, Steve joined the Cadet Unit at age fourteen and by the time of his graduation had learn orienteering, bush skills and become Lance Corporal.
At age sixteen, Steve and his younger brother Chris (14), undertook a multi-day trek in the Grampians National Park. Their father dropped them off at the base of Mount William and they hiked up the road to the summit where they pitched a tent overlooking the vast plain below toward Ararat. It was a balmy clear sky night. But around midnight a cold front blew in and by dawn the two awoke to freezing conditions, the tent weighed down by thick snow and immersed in dense cloud. Not able to see more than ten feet ahead, finding the track atop the plateau toward their planned next campsite at Jimmy Creek, became increasingly difficult. At first they followed cairns along the track, but then the cairns ran out. Steve decided that with the dangerous cliffline close by yet lost in the dense cloud, it would be safer to navigate westward bush-bashing down First Wannon Creek to reach the Grampians Road. Lowering their packs by rope, the two persisted scrambling down the rocky creekline all day, finally reaching the road by dusk.
That night, with no fly, the tent leaked and Steve developed cramp in his thighs, quads and calf muscles. So it was decided to walk through the night along the road to Halls Creek to stave off the cramping pain. By dawn the two reached Halls Creek, 20km later, ate all their food and basked in the sun. The creek is recalled in infamy as ‘bastard creek’.
Steve had always wanted to be a pilot, ideally to fly helicopters with the Royal Australian Air Force, but by the time he graduated from Camberwell Grammar, only the Army flew military helicopters, and to be eligible, one first had to graduate as an Army officer. So in his final year of school Steve applied to enter the Army’s Royal Military College at Duntroon to undertake the 18-month officer training course, however he failed due to immaturity.
At age nineteen, after the second attempt to enter Duntroon failed, Steve took off on a sabbatical epic backbacking trip around eastern Australia from Melbourne to Brisbane, working odd jobs in Prosperpine and The Whitsundays. While working on Hayman Island washing dishes, Steve applied to Duntroon for a third time, flying down to Melbourne and back for the interview process, but again was unsuccessful; this time because the Army considered his lifestyle on Hayman Island would not make him suitable to the hardships of the Army. Yet Steve had maintained his fitness routine on Hayman by running the 5km goat track around the island daily in 30+ degrees heat and humidity.
Upon return to Hayman, Steve saved up some funds before venturing further up to Cairns, Kuranda in the Atherton Tablelands then hitching a ride across the outback to Darwin via Mataranka. Eventually Steve made his way back home with his German girlfriend Katya hitching a lift on a road train down the Red Centre through Alice Springs and on to Adelaide before returning to Melbourne eight months later.
Having his flying plans in the Army dashed for a third time, Steve undertook management training at Footscray Institute of Technology (now Victoria University) in hotel management, since he had worked casually in hospitality since his school days to earn some income. From pot washing after school to kitchenhand, waiter, bartender and hotel duty manager, it was over a six year period that Steve’s catering and hospitality experience was acquired. But all the while, Steve never gave up on his ambition to fly. While at F.I.T. Steve soon joined the student outdoors group ‘OUTFIT’ and participated in a variety of activities – bushwalking, kayaking the Mitchell River and abseiling. He tried rock climbing, but found it too difficult.
During his holiday break from F.I.T., Steve ventured to Western Australia by Greyhound bus, breaking the journey at Ceduna, before crossing the Nullabor then alighting at Eucla to hike 10km return in 40 degree sun to the Great Australian Bight. Then hitching a ride from Norseman to Esperance and backpacking around the south-west – Sterling Ranges, Albany, Denmark, Pemberton, Augusta, Quindalup, Cottlesloe, Rottnest. Then taking another Greyhound northward stopping off at Geraldton, hitching to Kalbarri, then on to Carnarvon, Port Hedland to Broome.
Returning in the second year of study, Steve would hire a SLR camera from the student union and head out camping solo, exploring various national parks – Kinglake, Baw Baw, Kosciuszko, Wilsons Promontory. He would also lead hiking trips with OUTFIT and practice orienteering with the Nillumbik Orienteering Club.
The third year of Steve’s hotel management degree, required working in the hotel industry, so Steve secured trainee employment at the London Kennedy Hotel in London. After temporary house sharing in Willesden Green for a week, Steve managed to find a room in another house share in nearby leafy Hamstead.
Underpaid, the opportunity was short-lived however, since it fell short of sustainably living in London. While in London at a bar in Covent Garden, Steve happened upon two young helicopter trainee pilots from New Zealand. Steve took up an offer by one to take his first light aircraft flight as a front seat passenger, catching a London black cab to Elstree Aerodrome. Up in a Cessna it was the first time Steve had seen blue skies since arriving in Britain in January 1986.
Having all but exhausted work opportunities at London’s main accommodation hotels, Steve abandoned hospitality to give aviation a try, booking a flight to Auckland with the hope and promise of helicopter work in deer recovery in New Zealand. The next available flight was not for three weeks, so in that time Steve caught a train to Devon (the ancestral home of his father), walked around Plymouth, managed to hitch a ride to Lands End and stayed over at the Ship Inn in Mousehole on the Cornish south coast.
Taking the British Rail back to London, Steve decided to visit the continent to while away time waiting for his New Zealand flight and so his next career chapter. A train to Dover, hovercraft to Calais and then hiring a tiny Fiat Uno for a week, Steve drove through Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Luxembourg, and even tried for the Black Forest but run out of time, so headed back to Calais and London, before flying Air New Zealand to Auckland.
To be continued…